Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Between Books - Disney Destinies

Everybody has bad times.  Everybody just hits that rough patch you cannot get past, you think.  And everyone needs a little inspiration sometimes.  It is amazing what a little reminder of how others have moved past their obstacles can help cheer someone (including yourself) up.

Disney Destinies: How Passing, Patience and Determination Can Take Anyone Anywhere by Karl Beaudry recounts stories of Disney personalities and legends who experienced tough times and moved past them.  Beaudry starts with the big cheese himself, Walt Disney, reminding us of his setbacks including a bankruptcy and detractors who mocked his ideas.   Along with Walt Disney, Beaudry profiles Disney figures that you are likely aware of like Bob Gurr, Tony Baxter, Ward Kimball and more.  But he also spends time with lesser discussed figures like Vesey Walker, Owen Pope, and a surprise Disney personality Steve Martin.  The typical chapter is not a full biography but a look at specific incidents that the individual had to struggle with to become the success they later became.

I can see someone picking this up and believing it is a book of biographies like Walt Disney's Imagineering LegendsDisney Destinies is not really a history book, it is an inspirational text.  I think an alternative name, in jest only, would be Chicken Soup for the Disney Fan's Soul (it does not appear such a book exists).  In this book the inspiration is not provided through moral tales or fables, but through the real-life stories of people that Disney fans will likely know or come to relate to by the end of the profile.  Why inspiration?  Beaudry makes it clear that he was reading a lot of Disney history during a rough patch in his life and found inspiration from the stories he was reading.  In short, he is now sharing what inspired him when he was undergoing a personal struggle.  Beaudry succeeds in sharing this inspiration by providing easy to read text with smooth connections between the story and where the individual could claim success.

Though I will admit with me being a history fan there were still insights I pulled out of the book.  I did not realize how the lose of Roger Broggie's father as a young child put him on the path towards his later career.  And I did find the thoughts on Steve Martin's career, including his job at Disneyland as a youth before the magic shop and his long years as a stand-up without success as a story of perseverance.  And I had never really thought about the fact that the Popes relocated their entire lives to Disney property from the Studio to Disneyland to Walt Disney World throughout the decades to support Walt Disney's dream.  

I could see giving this book to a Disney fan facing a personal struggle since they will connect to the profiled figures.  I could also see giving this book to a young adult just starting to dig into Disney history since there are a number of individuals that they will be introduced to who will come up again in their reading.  I would probably not suggest this to someone who wanted an in-depth history of the Walt Disney Company, as this is not the book's purpose.  With a Kindle version priced at $4.99 it would be an easy book to give to a Disney minded friend who needs inspiration.

Everyone struggles sometimes and everyone needs some inspiration.  As Karl Beaudry points out there are no real dead-end jobs.  There are only steps in one's story.  Disney Destinies reminds us that even those we admire faced difficulties in their lives.  And like them we can overcome them.     

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press

Monday, December 22, 2014

Between Books - Faith and the Magic Kingdom

I have often said that for me one of the most spiritual places in the world is a Disney theme park.  I know that it sounds silly between the crowds and the expense.  But for me and my family it is truly one of the few places in the world where my mind and soul find rest.  Now I know that I am not the only one finding spiritual lessons in theme parks.

Faith and the Magic Kingdom by Randy Crane connects Disneyland to lessons in Christian living.  Crane walks his readers through a tour of the park from front to back and through each land, writing on the history or theming of attractions, shops and other park elements.  He provides 2 to 6 pages at each stop giving both history and a connection to the Bible.  Overall, Crane gives the park a thorough walk-through visiting every land and every major location, though not all shops.  Wait, Crane totally missed churro carts and worse of all the Tiki Juice Bar.  In his over 100 plus entries along with Disney history, Crane makes a connection to Christian life and the Bible.

I have actually read a fair number of devotional books in my day.  And I would say Faith in the Magic Kingdom stands up well in that market.  Like most devotional books it attempts to link a story with a lesson from Christian life.  Crane's lessons include Christian salvation, living in community, what does Christian freedom mean, and integrity.  Though this list is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are 100 plus entries and the lessons do not generally overlap.  The key to me with a devotional is not the lesson but the hook.  Can the author's point of view draw you in, especially since the devotional market is quite crowded and the majority of big name Christian authors have a devotional title.  As a Disney fan Crane's hook of Disneyland worked well for me.  And I think that Christians who love Disneyland and use devotional reading to deepen their faith will enjoy this title.  And a Christian believer who has a fan who is a Disney fan with faith-based questions could look at this book as a resource. 

Crane does admit that some of his Disneyland to faith connections are not as strong as others.  Though I found his writing to be clear and well thought out.  I personally read it at a time that was somewhat a crisis event in the Between Family.  And his words generally helped uplift my spirit during some worrisome moments.

But I will also say I read Faith and the Magic Kingdom mostly wrong.  During the crisis event I would read an entry and then mull it over as the events of the day also crashed against my mind and what I had read.  In short I thought about my reading for a small percentage of the book.  But the majority I blasted through because I needed to get a review ready and I needed to make it to the end.  This title is really not meant for that type of full-speed reading.  Most will want to take one entry at a time, perhaps one a day, and contemplate the text.  Those who journal would likely find material to add to their meditative log.  But when one is charging through the reading, if they are like me, the reader will likely take notice of the Disney facts while not really mulling over the spiritual content.

I was concerned that Crane's Disney facts would be light or too generic.  Overall his facts rely in his vast experience within the park.  And they are chosen to help support the spiritual theme of the entry.  A stand out entry for me provided background on Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, which I do not believe I have ever stumbled on before.  So even for the most read Disney fans there are likely new gems in the text.    

With a Kindle price of around $9, Faith and the Magic Kingdom is competitively priced in the devotional space.  Likewise it also is priced fairly for a guide book.  But the advantage that it has over devotionals with much bigger named authors is the ability to borrow the title through the Kindle Unlimited program.  I think the question of print or Kindle version comes down to how one prefers to use a devotional, especially considering note taking.

I do know that it sounds silly, but my spiritual life always feels fresher after I have visited a Disney theme park.  And Faith and the Magic Kingdom shows me that I am not the only stranger in a strange land with this experiences.  Therefore I am glad to see a writer connect spiritual lessons to my favorite place on Earth especially as I read during the holiday season.  I think my real big question is when does the volume on Disney California Adventure get released? And how will he work the Tiki Juice Bar into that volume?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Between Books - Walt Disney's Garage of Dreams

It seems like most of America's best ideas spend time maturing in garages.  The Walt Disney Company is no different.  But the garage and its important place in Disney history was almost lost.

Walt Disney's Garage of Dreams by Arthur C. "Buddy" Adler documents from one cast member's view the discovery and eventual rescue of Disney's original animation studio, Uncle Robert Disney's garage.  The late Mr. Adler chronicles how he discovered the garage was put up for auction and his visit to the garage when the auction failed to provide a buyer.  The garage did not sale and was at risk of being destroyed.  Adler helped found The Friends of Walt Disney which dedicated themselves to the purchase, restoration, and donation of the garage.  The Friends of Walt Disney and Adler discovered the difficulties of donating a substantial free gift to non-profit museums, including the Smithsonian.   Along with chronicling the history of The Friends of Walt Disney, Adler provides stories from his time working for Disney as a purchasing agent.  And he shares recollections from fellow cast members like Bob Penfield who was the last original Disneyland cast member to be employed by the park.  Penfield also provided Adler with a tape of a speech given by Walt Disney to Disneyland Cast Members on Disneyland's 10th anniversary. 

Adler sadly passed away before he could see the final printed book.  Jim Korkis assisted the final product by verifying facts, filling in incomplete manuscripts and organizing Adler's writings.  The book really does feel like a few different stories including the story of Walt's Garage, anecdotes of Adler the cast member, tales from other cast members and miscellaneous material about Walt Disney.  Adler's writing is honest and easy to read, though perhaps sparse at time.  And his story of The Friends of Walt Disney is interesting, very political and instructive for anyone looking to be part of a non-profit which plans to gift major property.  Adler lays out his opinions on events as he saw them, giving the reader the inside scoop.  In fact, he attempts to set some records straight.  The cast member recollections are very much in line with what one would expect, though coming from areas which are more logistical in nature such as Adler detailing purchasing practices at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  Readers looking to find stories about teenagers behaving poorly behind stage will be disappointed.  Those wanting insight into the final resting place on a key piece of Disney history may find themselves getting wrapped up into a tale of suspense, will the garage find a home?  For all audiences it is a quick and clear read which can be found on Kindle Unlimited. 

Did The Friends of Walt Disney find a home for Walt's Garage?  I simply cannot tell you, but those wanting a spoiler should feel free to click here!  If you pick up Walt Disney's Garage of Dreams you will not be satisfied until you know what happened to the garage and consider how you may become part of it's story.   

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press

Monday, December 8, 2014

Between Books - Universal vs. Disney: The Unofficial Guide to American Theme Park's Greatest Rivalry

I have a general philosophy about a Disney vacation.  Why leave property?  I take long vacations where I spend nearly all of my time if not all under the Disney umbrella.  But during my last trip I did discover that I could have some fun without being in the Disney zone at all times.  So I am beginning to ask myself if there might be things in the entrainment industry outside of Disney that I would consider sampling.  But would I ever consider visiting Disney's biggest theme park rival?

Universal vs. Disney: The Unofficial Guide to American Theme Parks' Great Rivalry by Sam Gennawey details the foundation and expansion of Disney's theme park rival.  Universal's introduction to entertainment actually goes back to December 3, 1913, when Carl Laemmle opened his film studio to the public allowing them to see movies being made.  In 1915, Laemmle expanded his lot Universal Studio even further and began to stage a fake disaster for those who took the studio tour.  In 1958, Music Corporation of America (MCA) would purchase the Universal Studio lot and the studio tour would grow under the leadership of Lew Wasserman and his associates such as Jay Stein.  The MCA team would regularly work to create attractions that could attract locals and repeat business whie making the best commercial possible.  However, MCA saw their tour as an attraction that complimented not competed with Disneyland.  With the expansion of Disney into Florida in the 1970's, the Universal team looked to build a production studio and studio tour that could again complement Disney theme parks.  However, with the naming of Michael Eisner as Disney CEO, Disney announced their own movie theme park, which would become Disney-MGM Studios with attractions that seemed to duplicate Universal's plans for a Florida park.   With Disney's own announced park, the Universal team began a quest to build a park to challenge Disney with partners like Steven Spielberg.  The quest would not be easy as MCA changed hands through corporate sales.  Gennewey discusses Universal's failures, delays and eventual success in building a theme park that could rival Disney with Universal Orlando. 

I really enjoy Sam Gennawey books, and his books always come across as serious history to me.  His use of footnotes and extensive research makes it clear that his books are a step beyond the typical book directed for Disney fans but are also books that could be used by academic historians.  Universal vs. Disney is the kind of book that could be used in a theme park history course, and probably will be in the future.  And it has the tone of an academic monograph.  His writing is clear and easy to understand.  My chief criticism of his writing is that his chapters tend to stop abruptly.  I really wish he had provided a summary paragraph that captures the tone or theme of his chapters.   It would provide the reader both a review, but a sense of closure and likely foreshadowing of what is to come. 

One of the things that I really hoped for was a discussion of the Universal Orlando contract licensing Marvel characters.  As a Marvel Disney fan this contract fascinates me since you can see Captain America at the competition and not on Disney property.  Gennawey does give over five pages to the discussion of Marvel, but the majority of this information is about attraction development especially The Amazing Spider-Man: A Web Slinging 3-D Ride and not contracts.  And the Disney purchase of Marvel and the limitations in place for Disney's use of Marvel properties is not detailed.  I would have liked to see mention of the Avengers themed monorail for example.  I assume that this conversation was limited by two things.  First, Universal vs. Disney really is a book about the Universal theme parks.  And honestly that felt like a good choice to me so Gennawey did not have to repeat material from books including his own The Disneyland Story.  Since my knowledge of Universal and MCA history is quite small the book felt new and fresh to me.  Second. I doubt that the details that I want about the Universal/Marvel contract are really available for public review.     

As I mentioned, there is not as much Disney history as I expected.  Disney's presence is always there throughout the book, but Disney is a supporting actor not the co-star of the book.  Disneyland and Walt Disney World is discussed as a complimentary and different type of attraction; a theme park not a studio tour.  And until Eisner's arrival at Disney, Universal was really not attempting to promote themselves as the same type of experience as what Disney offered.  But Eisner really did serve as a catalyst for two entertainment companies.  While his leadership was taking Disney to new places, the image of him as a villain was taking Universal into the theme park industry with the hope of challenging Disney and embarrassing Eisner personally.  Eventually the Wizarding World of Harry Potter would finally reach a level of theming beyond Disney's high standards, forcing Disney to go to new places years after Eisner was no longer with Disney. 

Mistakes were made.  If Universal had the proposed Knight Rider/A-Team stunt show they hoped for, it would have had me through the gates years ago.  Sadly the show would never be.  And perhaps it was mistake on my part never visiting a Universal theme park.   Universal vs. Disney has shown me a history of a theme park that started four decades before Disneyland opened.  And I can truly say that I know understand how Disney both positively and negatively influenced the development of a non-Disney park.  

Review Copy Provided by Keen Communications

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cap's Comics - Ward Dizzley's 100% True Life Action Adventure Comics Digest #2

Ward Dizzley is back, or at least Hoot Gibson (Dave Ensign) and his tales of urban adventuring at the Walt Disney World Resort are in Ward Dizzley's 100% True Life Action Adventure Comics Digest #2.  The issue opens with a fictional introduction by Ward Dizzley, which serves as a tribute to Hoot Gibson's partner and late friend Chief.  This is followed by a story about an odd cast member at the Columbia Harbour House.  The second tale recounts guests doing drugs in the 1970s and stumbling into the submarine ride.  This is followed by two stories of Hoot Gibson sneaking into the show building of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with his friend Chief and another friend Mike Fink.  Along with the illustrated stories the comic includes ad parodies of Disney parks products and a collectible page of the "Mean People of the Magic Kingdom."

This comic is not for the kids.  It features profanity and adult situations.  The Between Kids are several years away from reading this illustrated title.  And superhero comic books fans are likely to not be as interested.  The stories themselves glorify urban exploring and humor.  And the dedicated audience that Hoot Gibson has gathered will surely enjoy this second issue.  The illustrations are cartoonish and fit the mood of the stories. Personally, I enjoy the humor of the ads the most since they capture the vintage feel of old comic advertisements and have a Saturday Night Live bit to them.  Overall, the audience of the title are those who like humor and stories of misbehavior on Disney property.  

The comic sells for $6, but a Kindle copy can be purchased for $3.99.  For those on Kindle Unlimited it can be borrowed for free which is what I did.  And I believe that the cheaper options are the paths that most readers should select.  Though Hoot Gibson fans will want the autographed physical copy.
Ward Dizzley's 100% True Life Action Adventure Comics Digest #2  will likely give most adults a laugh with either the stories of the ads.  But the key here is to remember to come with a sense of humor while keeping the kiddies reading Figment!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Between Books - I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand

If you are considering the Disney College Program you need to do your research.  Step one is considering which books you want your parents to read as you gather support, likely financial, to enter this program.  But then you might want to also think about which books you want to read but forbid your parents from ever seeing!  Because in a world of young adults, some of drinking age, some stories are rated a little bit more than PG-13.

In I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand: The Wild Side of Walt Disney World by Chris Grimm outlines the author's semester working as a lifeguard at the Walt Disney World Resort through the Disney College Program.  Grimm discusses why he chose to enter the Disney College Program, a decision that will seem especially odd since he did not grow up Disney obsessed kid.  He follows with his preparation in moving to Orlando and the all-important chore of room-mate first impressions.  Grimm's story is then dominated by parties, parties,  girls, parties, drinking, parties, girls and parties.  He clearly got as much as he could from the social aspect of the program spending time with his roommates, co-workers and his new found friends the Spanish Mafia (a group formed to participate in a massive weekly drinking game).  Grimm follows his time at Walt Disney World with a description of a trip to Spain where he spent time with his teammates from the Spanish Mafia.

I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand is not a book I would hand the Between Tween.  Grimm is very honest and explicit about his experiences, and I do mean explicit.  He details numerous parties including his intense drinking, as someone who was not drinking age at the time.  Grimm also outlines his philosophy on picking up girls, a technique he learned as he came out of his introverted nest.  And that includes the numerous hook-ups that these tactics brought him.  He discusses casual sex throughout the book, and there are no fairy tale romances to be found in his story.  Some of his descriptions of sexual encounters are highly detailed and have to be labeled erotic.  This is not a book for everyone and all age ranges.  Though I am sure for those looking to read about the social side of working in the Disney College Program this book will be a hit.  

The odd thing about this book is even if you do not agree with Grimm's choices, much like his father, you cannot help but like him as you read through the book.  He writes with a very straightforward manner that helps you like him, despite the fact he is making out with as many young ladies as possible.  Fathers should beware.  Grimm cares deeply for his friends.  He does not intend to hurt anyone, which means he is clear about his intentions with his numerous encounters.  And you as a reader want to see him succeed socially.  Though as a middle aged man I would like to see Mr. Grimm settle down...wait did I just become his dad?

In many ways older readers can understand books about the Disney College Program.  All of us have generally had that first experience, be it college or first apartments, where we were free to express ourselves for the first time without parental guidance.  For some it is party, for others it is hard work.  But for all of us it is likely a balance.  Grimm in I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand stresses one aspect of his life in the Disney College Program, the party.  There are some brief mentions to his work as a lifeguard which he appears to have enjoyed.  But all of us one way or another understand this life phase and a book like this allows us to remember our own walk, even if Disney was not involved.

I Saw Ariel Do a Keg Stand is not a book for everyone.  Though those within its audience are sure to chuckle as they read the book or hope they can duplicate similar experiences.  It serves as a fun, quick and enjoyable read.  For those on the fence and members of Kindle Unlimited, you can dip your toe in by borrowing the title for free.  As for me, the Between Kids are now barred from ever going to Walt Disney World without me!  But that's because they are not allowed to have fun without me!

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press     

Friday, November 28, 2014

Between Books - The Disney Festivals Guide to a Walt Disney World Christmas 2014

The Disney Festivals Guide to a Walt Disney World Christmas 2014 by Ken Bingham describes what a guest could expect during the 2014 holiday season at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Bingham describes all of the resort's Christmas time activities including all four theme parks, Downtown Disney, and the resort hotels.  There are also rumors, mostly Frozen related, as the book was written before the season.  He does provide an analysis of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for those considering this hard ticket event including tips on how to best manage their time.  But there is still plenty of information for those who do not spend extra for a ticket for this Magic Kingdom party. Bingham explains what to expect at The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, the special storytellers one can find in Epcot, the Candlelight Processional and so much more.  

The Disney Festivals Guide to a Walt Disney World Christmas 2014 is a $2.99 Kindle book.  And at that price it is a title anyone visiting Walt Disney World during the holiday season, not just attending the party, should consider. You might be able to find much of this information elsewhere.  But the simple to search Kindle format allows one to have this information all downloaded to their phone for easy use.  One could easily carry the guide on their phone in the parks allowing for a quick review while making choices in the park.  And by downloading it beforehand one can research how to best spend time before arriving.  For those of us not going to Walt Disney World this year, the book provides an overview of what we are missing. The title is available for borrow on Kindle Unlimited for those who want to sample but not purchase the book.  

If you are going to Walt Disney World this holiday, The Disney Festivals Guide to Walt Disney World Christmas 2014 gives a good overview of events for planning purposes.  For the rest of us we can feel jealous of what we are missing in our real snow covered Betweenland.  And the price is low enough to please all of us as a low-risk purchase!  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Between Books - Main Street Windows

I was in the midst of researching Roy O. Disney and needed details on tributes to Mr. Disney in the parks.  It was Christmas and I had friends visiting the Walt Disney World Resort from Betweenland. At one point at 11 p.m. WDW time I was yelling into a cell phone hoping my friends could hear me over the capacity crowd, "I NEED A PICTURE OF THE DAVIS WINDOW."  Needless to say they could not hear me, could not find the window and only days later even figured out what I was looking for.   In today's world I could have avoided yelling. 

Main Street Windows by Jeff Heimbuch chronicles the visual tributes to Disney employees who have influenced the theme parks through honorific windows located primarily on Main Street U.S.A.. Heimbuch takes his readers through Disneyland, The Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland with a glance at every current window and even a few that have been removed.  Typically on the left hand pages Heimbuch provides the window text and biographies of the honored individuals with the right hand pages showing a picture of the window itself.  For the American parks this pattern if followed with every two pages featuring either one or two windows.  In the non-domestic parks there are less pictures and more windows featured every two pages primarily by text.  Though one discovers there are many more atmosphere only windows outside of the United States.

You ever try to take a good picture of Main Street Windows?  I have.  It is hard!  You think to yourself you can do it, you can get the right angle and the right light and it will happen...with your phone!  Yeah, you are hot mess if you think you can pull it off with a lack of time or equipment because with overhangs, canopies and angles shooting from the ground you are fighting a losing battle.  This for me is the real win of Main Street Windows, a resource with largely readable pictures of the windows.  It is clear that Heimbuch's team of photographers knew their way around a camera and found ways to photograph the windows in their best possible light, literally in some cases.  There are photos were shadows do obscure part of the window, but even the novice (like me) begins to realize the difficulty of photographing the windows and what a good representation of the widows the photos are.

If for some reason cannot read the window, Heimbuch does provide a full transcript of the window's inscription.  And he provides readers context by giving a brief write-up of who the window honors and why they deserved to be recognized on Main Street U.S.A..  As one reads through the biographies it becomes clear that many honored are not the known legends of Disney we can recite off the tip of our tongues.  Instead there are numerous men and women recognized whose names do get thrown around but are honored for providing excellent service to the parks.  The biographies for individuals with windows in multiple parks are largely copies of each other.  

If there is one thing I wish was added it would be an index.  It is easy enough to scan through the book with names in bold and text primarily being printed on the left hand side.  But an index would help speed readers to the window they are seeking in the book.

Main Street Windows by Jeff Heimbuch is the most comprehensive book on Disney's Main Street Windows.  For me it is an important reference, as any Disney writing I do includes me wanting to know about window tributes in the park.  Main Street Windows will be a first reach for me when I start to assemble outlines on Disney parks related projects in the future.

Review Copy Provided by Orchard Hill Press    

Monday, November 17, 2014

Between Books - The Deadliest Cast Member: Season Two

I often judge an episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by my tension level.  The more tense I am by the end of the episode the more I liked it due to the action and suspense.  So when I received my review copy of the latest installment in the Deadliest Cast Member saga I shot off an email to the author noting my worry he would kill off a character or two like he has done in the earlier offering. Before I even cracked the cover I was worried!

The Deadliest Cast Member: Season Two by Kelly Ryan Johns takes hero Jack Duncan and his partner Kendall Shepherd back to 2005.  Johns walks his readers through the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland, the day in which Duncan lost his wife and became a true national hero when former Soviet spy Nikolai Grusov held the park hostage.  Readers follow Jack throughout his day as he attempts to both protect the park and his family.  And as readers know the price is high since Duncan's life was changed forever this day.  The conspiracy against the park and the Duncan family is more complex than one might believe.  Along with following our heroes, readers also join guests and media being held hostage in the park.  While Jack and Kendall try to protect Disneyland and its guests, two pairs of time travelers also work to impact the final outcome.  One pair, Jack's father Stan and a companion close to the history of the park worry that changing the events of the fateful day could leave a larger scar on the timeline.  And the others, a pair of highly trained operatives from the future use futuristic gadgets and weapons to make a change that could have ramifications for the Duncan family in the far off 2035.

Early in this installment of the franchise the science fiction element is laid out.  While there is an action story being played out in front of us, there are time travellers in the park which are attempting to change or not change the story.  One of these characters is an adult version of one of the kids from the Voyageers' series of books by Johns.  And you do feel like this could be the grown-up character as you watch their personality and determination in action.  The other is one you start to believe has a more complex back story than time traveling criminal, and of course he does!

Really it is Jack and Kendall that I find myself most attracted to when I grab this book.  And this Jack seems more violent and less fatherly than the version that we met in the first installment set in the future.  That Jack is a father who has been raising his kids alone as a widower.  This Jack is freshly out of the military and just now starting a new job at Disneyland.  He literally has no idea who he can can trust other than a close circle that includes Kendall and his father.  He is focused and willing to do everything he can to protect his family and his beloved Disneyland.  Basically you can see this Jack as a earlier version of what we saw in the first volume.  One can see how the Jack we were introduced to grew from this man.  Of course Kendall is Kendall, he is solid, caring, and the best friend one can have.

Overall the book is easy to read and clear.  The story is written as an hourly log of events.  It did take me awhile to get myself into the book, or would that be hours as one reads it.  I was distracted by trying to keep track of who was who and trying to remember who I was introduced to before.  Though even when this was happening I was still able to enjoy the book while reading it at a fast pace.  But by the time I got into the last 40 percent, tension had risen.  I found I could no longer put the book down without being frustrated by my need to end the tension and find out what was happening next.  For a book that should have a set outcome I knew was going to happen, Johns found ways to bring me doubt to my certainty.

Will Jack Duncan return?  Johns makes it clear that is up to the fans and how they receive the story.  I for one hope to see a sequel to The Deadliest Cast Member: Season Two as Johns has some unfinished business for all his characters.  And I would really like to see if Jack Duncan or the man from 2035 is the greatest warrior of all time! 

Oh and yes, look for the post-credit scene Marvel Cinematic Universe fans!

Review Copy Provided By Author

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cap's Comics - Ward Dizzley's 100% True Life Action Adventure Comics Digest Issue ONE

Ward Dizzley's 100% True Life Action Adventure Comics Digest Issue ONE is a very different comic than those that typically show up in the Cap’s Comics section.  But it is likely the first, and maybe the only, largely set in a Disney Theme Park.  In this case the majority of the action in the book takes place in the Walt Disney World Resort.  The fictional editor-in-chief of this comic is Ward Dizzley, a clear parody of Walt Disney.  The humorous nature of the book is underscored by ads for products like “Burning Settler’s Cabin” which is economically priced at a dollar.  The low price shows us we are in a prior era since there is no way you could get a burning cabin for that price today!  But a word to the wise, don’t buy in bulk.  

The main content of the book is three stories.  The first story is a satirical Uncle Remus tale.  The second is a story of two slackers who join up with a pair of ladies in the Walt Disney Resort and hit it off or not.  The third is the story of the meeting of Hoot Gibson and Chief, two Walt Disney World employees who love the resort and learn the secret of exploring backstage.  The art is fun and relaxed and fits the light stories in the comic.

Really this comic has a dedicated audience, the fans of the Mesa Verde Times which documents the adventures of Hoot Gibson and the late Chief backstage at Horizons.  This blog has a very dedicated audience that enjoys their writing style and stories.  And this comic was really made for that loyal audience.  Those who are big fans of satire in the Mad Magazine style would also likely enjoy this comic.  But the comic is not for kids, as it includes mature material.  This is not a fan extension of the Disney Kingdoms comics.  And it is not for super hero comic fans, unless they also like Mesa Verde Times or satire magazines also.   

Ward Dizzley's 100% True Life Action Adventure Comics Digest Issue ONE is a comic that dedicated to a specific Disney fan community.  But it is likely not for everyone.  However, it is an offering in the Kindle Unlimited program.  Therefore, for those wishing to sample without buying there is an affordable option.  

While I could see Rolly Crump giving this comic a big thumbs up, not all of Rolly’s fans may agree. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Between Books - Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

What is it like to apply for, be selected and work in the Disney College Program? This is likely a question that many parents and young adults have? Is it safe? Will the participants become rich? Are they all friends of Mickey Mouse and if not what kinds of jobs can one get? These are questions that Elly and Caroline Collins help answer in their latest book.

Two Girls and Mouse Tale by Elly and Caroline Collins provides an account of their two semesters away from school as members of the Disney College Program. They provide a comprehensive review of the program. This includes the application process, selecting which resort to apply for, and interviewing. Once selected they go into depth on the housing options, packing and the question of bringing a car. Their accounts once they are in Orlando include living in Disney housing (including its pitfalls), special events for Disney College Program participants, educational opportunities and work schedules. Throughout the book they sprinkle the logistics of being in the Disney College Program with dairy like accounts of their own experiences.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale provides a very personal look at the Disney College Program. The writers provide a lot of good details about the program including how to select jobs on one’s application and the advantages/disadvantages of the two United States’ resorts. And I think they make a pretty strong case for Orlando due to the volume of positions and support systems that Orlando provides. If one is interested in the types of housing Orlando provides, they provide an extensive breakdown of different apartment complexes and what is it like living in Disney housing, hint do not pin anything to the wall. They also provide tales of their own roommate issues, which many in their early 20s can relate to. I am pretty sure I was the bad roommate having turned up the stereo one time (seriously it was like one time)! I personally found it interesting seeing the list of benefits including courses for college credit, special parties and extensive discounts. Overall, I think this is a good resource for someone considering applying to the Disney College Program.

There are a few hiccups for me from a writing side. It can be difficult telling who is writing which section, though they sometimes identify themselves. There are sections that appear to be self quotes, but I am not really sure where they are quoting themselves from. And there are some specific Disney terms, like Basics Walk, that I do not believe every reader will know. These issues would at times take me out of their personal anecdotes, with me generally getting back into the book when they recounted program logistics.

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale is a helpful book for those looking to enter the Disney College Program. It provides firsthand accounts of how to apply, live and work in the program. Parents reading this book will be reassured that the Disney College Program is not a constant party for every cast member. Potential Disney College Program participants will have needed information on how to prepare for their experience. Readers will be better informed and ready to face the Disney College Program ready to hit the ground running, or if they are smart it seems driving.

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Between Books - The Ride Delegate

Sometimes you judge a book by its cover.  When I saw the cover of The Ride Delegate I thought it would be a sweet little memoir.  But I was not sure if it was something I really wanted to read.  The fact that it would be discussing VIP tours would something new.  But really I thought it would be a typical and predictable self-reflection.  Instead I found myself frustrated.  I was frustrated that I had to put the book down to work.  I was frustrated that Annie's guests were not on time.  I was frustrated with guests who thought just because they paid a high fee they could be rude!  I guess somewhere along the way, I found myself pulled into The Ride Delegate and I did not want to put it down.

The Ride Delegate: Memoir of a Walt Disney World VIP Tour Guide by Annie Salisbury details Salisbury's years as a Walt Disney World Resort guide.  She outlines why she chose employment at Walt Disney World and how she worked to be a VIP Tour Guide.  Then she explains what guests can and cannot get in the different types of tour experiences.  Needless to say, it pays to be both rich and famous.  And most importantly Salisbury takes you on her tours both good and bad but generally all memorable.  These tales include the families that treated Salisbury as their oldest child, the sports star who believed he was at Universal, and the possible foreign princess with her enormous entourage.  As any good memoir should, Annie outlines her last day of work and how special guests made her feel royal.

The Ride Delegate is clear and easy to read.  I found it enjoyable and as noted I found myself unexpectedly pulled into the story.   I said that I was at times frustrated, this is a lie.  I was downright angry.  There were a few guest stories that I wanted to look over at the unnamed guest and simply say, "what makes you think you can act this way?  Annie has been nothing but gracious to you and she only wants you to have a memorable vacation.  You are rude and have lost the right to have a tour guide."  With at least one story at the conclusion I wanted to reach out and give Salisbury a high five and a serving of her favorite corn dog nuggets for how she was able to walk with dignity at the end of the tour.  Now I typically do not get this way about people that I have never met.  So I am going to say this is a huge success since I found myself becoming highly sympathetic to her tales.  Seriously, I felt like a good tour was a victory for me and I was not even there.     

It is interesting to read of the benefits of a VIP Tour.  For example, to Salisbury's parking dismay at times, you get a ride to the park of your choice.  And you are not limited to any one park.  Your guide can drive you throughout the resort.  So if you want to ride Space Mountain but have dinner at Epcot, no problem. Your guide can drive you there.  Additionally, for some rides you do not need to wait because if there is a convenient entrance that does not disturb other guests you probably get to skip part of the line.  But if there is no alternative entrance, like it's a small world, you are waiting it out with everyone else unless you are a celebrity.  Tours are limited to ten.  If you add an eleventh you are going to be paying for an additional guide.  Guides can if they chose eat with their guests.  But if either party does not want the guide to join them they can eat tour free.  And Disney pays for the meals of guides, so many corn dog nuggets!  Generally these rules feed into Salisbury's stories.  And once you learn the rules you begin to see the problems that can be coming her way. And then there is the whole issue of stickers, and I am not talking Mickey Mouses.  

The Ride Delegate by Ann Salisbury is a really enjoyable read.  I highly recommend it, if all else fails you should consider the highly affordable Kindle copy.  It is a memoir that keep your attention, gives Disney fans a look into a service we probably will never enjoy, and might even make you consider getting (or not getting) a tour guide during your next Walt Disney World vacation.

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mousey Movie Preview - How the Age of Ultron Teaser Should Have Ended!

The How It Should Have Ended Crew have done it again and this time it's just a spoof of a trailer.  But it is a Disney/Marvel film and it is a parody that will make every Disney fan chuckle, or be really creeped out.  I give you "How the Avengers: Age of Ultron Teaser Should have Ended.":

Have you stopped laughing yet?

Well, just remember you have a friend in me here at Between Disney and have a fun Ultron free Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Between Books - Words for Pictures

As I am getting more and more back into comics I have become very interested in how they get made. And I hope to learn lessons, or reinforce lessons, that can be used in my own professional life.

Words For Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels
by Brian Michael Bendis provides an overview of how comics are made, advice on writing and practical advice about working in the comics field. Bendis being an accomplished comic book writer provides a writer’s perspective based on his own experiences. He explains how to pitch a project; both an original story and a work for hire licensed story. He explains what goes into writing a script and how artists, letterers, colorists and editors work together. While Bendis is an author, he spends quite a bit of time discussing how to work with artists, including what they like and do not like in scripts.  And he details how to interact with an editor. To help expand the focus away from just writing, Bendis includes round tables and interviews with artists and editors to provide color to the comic creation experience. A theme that runs throughout the books is collaboration, since unless a creator is doing all phases of production they must work with other creative people. Bendis sets the expectation that everyone must be credited and how to get the most out of the collaborative experience which vary from team to team and project to project. An aspect of the team that Bendis does not ignore is the business side of creativity providing key lessons from his own business failures. The book ends with exercises to help get writers writing. The majority of the book is heavily illustrated, largely with Marvel illustrations, typically with art that links to the process or creators he is discussing on the page.

Words for Pictures is easy to read thanks to clarity, interesting personal experiences and illustrations. The text is broken up with interviews and profiles being interspersed throughout the book. The only thing that I found odd is that the writer FAQ and writing exercise chapter are not illustrated with margins that are stark white. While these plain pages may be a blank slate to motivate writers, for a general interest reader like me the pages seemed stark and different enough from the heavily illustrated pages that it seems like someone just forgot about these pages.

The Marvel illustrations let a Disney fan know early that Bendis has strong ties to the company. One feels like they are reading the inside story from a Disney insider, much like one would with an Imagineer, because Disney owned art is everywhere. A good example of how this enriches the experience for the Marvel fan is Bendis' detailed description of the development of the Spider-Men storyline.  And while it was originated decades before the Disney purchase with Stan Lee there is an interesting discussion of what the Marvel method is and who if anyone likes it.

Words For Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels
by Brian Michael Bendis does a good job of explaining the comics creation process and providing tips and tools for getting into the comics industry. However, for the general public, Bendis does an excellent job of showing the power of collaboration. Being someone who works on teams everyday, it was nice to see that even in my beloved comics collaboration is key. And as a Disney fan, I loved reading how the Marvel arm functions as an artistic endeavor. While this book may not be a Between Book for every Disney fan, for those interested in creativity and Marvel should look at picking up this title.

Review Copy Provided by Publisher 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mousey Movie Preview - Avengers: Age of Ultron Teaser Trailer

During the credits for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it was announced that the world premier of the first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer would be played the following week.  Instead it was leaked 6 days earlier and Disney reacted by providing the full HD version of the trailer online.

My initial reactions are:
  • Ultron is scary and this movie feels darker than the original.
  • Disney fan freak out moment, I hope they keep the ties to a Disney animated classic in the soundtrack and dialogue.
  • I want to see this right now!
  • I loved Disney/Marvel's reaction, Hydra leaked it!

With nearly 30,000,000 views at the time of this posting, I am thinking I am not the only one who wants to see this.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Between Books - The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion

When I was in college one particular professor was my role model.  He was knowledgeable, but also allowed himself to have some fun. He could communicate clearly with little confusion.  He spoke about facts and let rumors and off-hand stories be heard but clearly noted for what they were.  I think this is why I have come to respect Jeff Baham for his work on the Haunted Mansion.  He knows the gossip around the attraction, but he also labels it for what it is.  And his own quest to find more truth about the Mansion has helped uncover lost history behind the famous Walt Disney attraction.  And these new truths are one he has been able to communicate in an easy to understand manner. 

The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion by Jeff Baham is a comprehensive history of the world famous Haunted Mansion.  Baham starts his tale decades before ground was broken in Disneyland, discussing the haunted houses and theme parks that Walt Disney would have been exposed to especially in Kansas City.  The story heats up in the 1950s as Walt Disney builds his first theme park and plans for a Ghost House within his new adventure.  Baham next outlines the evolution of the concept as the Ghost House was transformed from a walking attraction to the Omnimover driven dark ride we have today.  In describing the concept evolution he details the roles of Imagineers such as Ken Anderson, Rolly Crump, Yale Gracey, Mark Davis, Claude Coats and X. Atencio including their disagreements and rivalries.  Much of the inside story follows Crump's tale, with the Imagineer also writing the Foreword.  After developing the ride, Baham takes his readers for a tour through the Haunted Mansion discussing history and variances between different versions.  And finally he provide an Appendix focused on Haunted Mansion themed merchandise.  

I am going to sneak in my two nit picky issues while also pointing out how much I like this title.  First, I really wish that an index was included.  Luckily, this is a short book under 150 pages so it is easy to scan through.  But it is both well-written and filled with excellent history of the Haunted Mansion.  In fact, as Haunted Mansion history evolves it is likely the most complete to date with the inclusion of the Sauer "Castle" and discussions of the homes that inspired the facades of both American Haunted Mansions.  But an index would be such a nice tool for younger researchers who might want to dig into the design story of the attraction.  Second, I wish there was a conclusion from Baham about his thoughts on Haunted Mansion history.  The text as is feels like it abruptly stops with the attraction walk through and then merchandise.  I think it is fair to say that Baham knows more than the typical Disney fan about the Haunted Mansion.  And this deep knowledge and understanding comes out in his very easy to read informative text.  But I would have loved to see his reflections on either the Haunted Mansion or his own personal quest to fully document the Mansion in great detail.  Yes, it may not have added to the facts.  But I feel it would have been a more than fair addition, especially since my experiences listening to his Mousetaliga podcast have shown him to have great insight into Disney history.

Let us be honest, I complain only because I enjoyed this book so much.  And these are really minor quibbles.  

Then there is the ghost in the room, what if you bought Baham's first Haunted Mansion book, An Unofficial History of Disney's Haunted Mansion?  Do you buy the second one?  Baham in interviews makes it clear there is new material and reorganized material.  There are at least 20 additional pages in the newer book.  And it seems to me that there are less images in the updated book, which means there is even more text.  Additionally the new book's page size is around half an inch bigger.  All of this means again more content!  And the content includes greater discussion of Walt Disney and the people who made the attraction.  Another difference is images.  The pictures found in the updated history are sharper and clearer.  If you are considering purchasing between the new history and the older Baham history I would select the newer one just due to the influx of new content.  And if you have the old Baham book, buy the new one too because you are clearly a big Haunted Mansion fan!

When I heard that Jaff Baham was going to be working with a publisher to offer a new updated Haunted Mansion history, I got excited.  Since I heard it mentioned on his podcasts, I have kept this book on my radar despite having reader the earlier book.  The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion is a must have for Disney book fans, Haunted Mansion fans and parks fans.  It is well written, well produced and filled with fact about one of the most storied Disney attractions of all time.  It is clear for Baham that the Haunted Mansion is a passion.  We are just lucky he is willing to share the vast history he has uncovered. 

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mousey Movie Preview - Inside Out's First Trailer

Disney/Pixar's Inside Out recently got it's first trailer so we can start getting ready for my birthday 2015 weekend plans!

Here are my first thoughts?
  • It very much seems like Tron in your brain!
  • Like most Disney trailers recently, we are being reminded of past hits instead of giving us a ton of insight into this film.
  • I like the poster, it reminds me of Epcot!
  • I do enjoy Aerosmith's  "Sweet Emotion"!
 What do you think?  Are you excited Betweenland?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Between Books - Death in the Tragic Kingdom

This morning I was overloaded as I commuted to work. I had my book bag, my lunch, and a really heavy bag of stuff for a presentation. The big bag was making me a little wobbly. So as I walked up to a train platform and found myself walking into the yellow warning area closest to the tracks, I wanted to yell, “come on people, I don’t want to have an accident here.” You see I am at the moment a little hyper-aware of what a simple little fall can do after reading Death in the Tragic Kingdom.

Death in the Tragic Kingdom: The Unauthorized Walking Tour Through the Haunted and Fatal History of Disney Parks by Keaton Moll walks readers through the unfortunate early deaths of cast members and guests in Disney theme parks and the cruise line. The majority of cases consist of a short paragraph. Where newspaper articles and court documents exist, the descriptions of the events are longer. Moll takes his readers through these incidents like a tour guide, walking us through Disney property as we move from death to death. Along with accounts of death, Moll provides information about the urban legends of Disney hauntings. The book ends with a series of maps where one could follow the events of the book as a walking tour.

Moll’s tone is non-judgmental. He explains how deaths occur but generally does not pass judgment. He makes sure to explain that deaths at Disney are inevitable. The parks are cities! Just due to numbers of cast members and visitors, accidents and natural causes will lead to unexpected deaths. He does note some bad maintenance practices that have attributed to deaths in the past. But generally he assumes good will on Disney’s behalf. There are a few typos, but the do not interfere greatly with the experience. My only real complaint about Moll’s writing is that transitions for me are not always clear, but that could be an issue of spacing.

I do not like scary. When it comes to ghost stories, he passes the story along but makes it clear with some stories that he has trouble believing them. Moll makes it clear many of the ghost stories he shares are of a likely fictional nature, though he does share his own creep out moment. But I will say as I read this book I could feel goose bumps on the back of my neck. Honestly, I love these places he discusses. And the idea of any of these locations being haunted creeps me out a bit. But there are plenty of people who like a good scare!

Here is what I have learned from Moll. And honestly these are probably lessons Disney would like us to take note of. Though this is the type of book they would never endorse. Do not get out of your ride vehicle unless a cast member authorizes it. If Disney puts up a sign that states do not enter, don’t! And slipping and falling creates unsafe situations everywhere. Sadly another lesson is that some people chose the happiest place on Earth for their final resting place.

Death in the Tragic Kingdom outlines a piece of Disney history we rarely discuss, death. Keaton Moll provides us locations and stories on how these often sad events occurred. Additionally, he shares Disney’s ghost stories. For me, the last few days I have been careful of where my feet have been taking me. If a surface looks slick, I am going to step carefully. And as I walk with my headphones blaring a Disney podcasts in my ears I am paying more attention to traffic. Because if an accident can take me in my favorite parks, it could easily happen on my commute!

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mousey Movie Trailer - Tomorrowland's First Trailer

We have been awaiting a peek for Disney's Tomorrowland for awhile.  And then suddenly boom, there it was on the internet!
Yes, I would like to go there now!  And Yes if I was Disney adjacent I could go there now!  

I think Disney will be selling a lot of pins to non-pin traders in the future!

And for the first time in a long time, a Disney trailer got me excited!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Between Books - Star Wars: A New Dawn

Disney has made it clear that with the purchase of LucasFilm we have a whole new Star Wars. The old Expanded Universe now has Legend status. All new books are considered to be canon for LucasFilm storytellers. Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is on the vanguard of that new canon while also introducing fans to Kanan and Hera, two heroes from Star Wars: Rebels.

Kanan Jarrus has a secret. He is in fact a former Jedi on the run from the Empire after the purge of the Jedi order. He has hidden himself for years wandering the galaxy staying away from the attention of the Empire and their Jedi hunters. Kanan prepares to leave his job hauling explosives to mine the strategically important thorilide, used to stabilize a key component of Imperial warships, and slip yet again into another new life. His plans to slip away are interrupted by the arrival of two newcomers. Count Vidian, an Imperial industrial magnate and advisor to the Emperor, has been sent to improve operations of Gorse the refinery world, and Cyndathe mineral rich world. Vidian’s operations directly impact the lives of the few beings that Kanan cares about. Vidian arrives at the same time as Hera, a attractive Twi’lek seeking information about the Empire’s operations and any dissent that they may cause. Hera and Kanan become unlikely partners as the two attempt to thwart Vidian’s plans for Cynda and the horrible impact on Gorse.

I found Star Wars: A New Dawn an easy read. The biggest struggle is the fact that except for the mentioned but not present Emperor all these characters are new. So I have no relationship with them. I will say that was fine since I wanted to use this Between Book as an introduction to Star Wars: Rebels. But some may find it difficult since they are new faces. For me I do feel more ready for Star Wars: Rebels since I understand the tension in the Kanan/Hera relationship, they both clearly like like each other. However, there is still plenty of tension as Hera is not looking for romance. And I got to watch them grow into a division of labor I expect we will see on the television; Hera gets ideas but Kanan implements them. The book was not my favorite Star Wars book, but I still find it worth the read. The story is small, it’s only life and death for one system! But it is also nice to not have the entire galaxy on the line for once!

I think a big win for Jackson Miller is that when I read I see Kanan as Freddie Prinz Jr. I do not yet picture the animated version but a live action hero. But I hear the voice actor’s voice and even see his face when Kanan talks.

No attachments was a Jedi maxim. Because of this, Jedi make great fugitives. The power of attachments and relationships is a big theme in this book. For Count Vidian a lack of attachments makes him vicious. But for Kanan developing attachments allows him to rechannel the heroic part of his personality. And despite the fact Kanan is a drifter, everyone notices he is a good man even if he does not see it. I look forward to seeing how this personality growth works out on the show since he will be mentoring another. Will he instantly be the good man, or will he start by being a little rough around the edges?

I think if you read Star Wars books, you need to pick up Star Wars: A New Dawn. If you are interested in the animated series, as I am, I would say it is a read you might want to jump into. But for Disney fans not interested in LucasFilm, you can probably pass. Now I am excited about Star Wars and how Disney will continue to roll out and built the new toy. And I would say Star Wars: A New Dawn has me hopeful about some new personalities in a growing universe.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cap's Comics - Figment #5

I can truly say that Figment #5's last page is one that delights.  As I read it to the Between Kids, because they fought about who got to experience it first and so a family read was the only way to break the tie, a large whoop of excitement rang out as we flipped to the last brilliant full page panel  with art by Filipe Andrade and colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu.  It is a true payoff to the entire Disney Kingdom's comic series, one that will tickle even the non-comic Disney fan!

Jim Zub completes his origin of Dreamfinder and Figment in 'Journey Into Imagination Part Five."  Blarion and Figment return to London with Chimera and Fye in tow.  But London is now falling under the control of the orderly Clockwork Control and its robotic leader the Singular.  A physically, intellectually and spiritually changed Blarion has become someone new.  He is the Dreamfinder.  Dreamfinder uses his control of Dreams and his newly created Dream Machine to fight Clockwork Control for London, or Lon-don.  The cost of battling Clockwork Control in the end could be a high one, one that could lead some of our heroes starting a new journey.

Figment has been wonderful.  And I say that as a guy who does not obsess about Figment and Dreamfinder.  The Between Tween has fond memories of Figment from our last trip to Walt Disney World...over 5 years ago!  And for the Tween it has been nostalgia (yes I am aware some of you are shocked by this).  But for the Between Kid it has been an first introduction to Figment, which might lead to the question of where's Dreamfinder in the future?  And it is Dreamfinder that we get in this final issue, complete with the traditional model we would expect.  I am guessing that both will be tickled in the future when they find the Dream Machine hidden in Epcot!  Zub and his team have introduced a whole new batch of fans to this classic Disney characters.

As an adult Disney fan I find myself now placing Figment higher on my like list.  But that is an emotional response.  You see, I was able to share a comic book with my kids.  We all talked about the story.  I got to read it with them.  And I loved the excitement when I would come home with the newest issue.  This is a major win for a comic fan dad.  The fighting was appropriate.  The costumes were not skin-tight.  I got to share with my kids the fun.  And is not something that would have made Walt Disney happy?

At this time Disney Kingdoms has not announced the next journey.  I will say I think Zub and Andrade should be approached about another chapter!  Dreams are big and as endless as imagination.  And I feel there is more story to tell.  The Between Kids want more story.  And I want to share more with them.

Figment has been a major success in Betweenland.  I have discussed comics with Disney fans who do not read comics.  I got myself a pull list!  And I am just one of a few that would love to see and read more!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Between Books - Make Comics Like the Pros

As someone who collaborates with a comic book professional, it would be nice to understand his job. And as someone who reads a lot of comic book it would be nice to fully understand what goes into the creation of the final product. And as someone who loves Archer & Armstrong, I am more than happy to let writer Fred Van Lente explain it all to me.

Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on how to Write, Draw & Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente breaks down the comic book making process for the aspiring professional and the fan. The book goes through the various steps in creating a book from idea to finished product. And they explain the various jobs in the creation pipeline including providing tips for those holding those jobs based on their own experiences. Along with telling you how to make a comic, they show you as they work with an artist to create a new comic in the book’s pages based on their creation concepts. Along with the text, the book is illustrated on nearly every page with a piece of comic art that helps illustrate their points, generally from a Pak or Van Lente project though never from the big two publishers.

Now, I am not a comic professional. Though this week I did declare myself the COO of a non-existent comic press. After I made my inspirational speech, my staff seemed to have evaporated. But now I have a toolbox to assist me in bringing everyone back!

Okay, seriously, Make Comics Like the Pros has value for those who do not make comics. First, Pak and Van Lente stress the need for collaborating. Unlike a book, a comic book takes several different artists to make the final product occur. And they stress the fact that several people are generally needed and they all need to get credit and get paid. Additionally, they discuss the value of collaboration between writers and artists and how two people can make something even stronger. As someone who writes with a team non-comics it was both validating and instructive. Second, for a comics fan there is a nice summary of what each artist does. Their book helps illuminate what an editor, inker and letterer does and some of their general tools.

Though they do not share any Marvel art, the two discuss the Marvel Method of comic book writing. This method sees the writer giving a plot to an artist and then afterwards filling in the dialogue and narration. They explain the fear around this method, but also how it can be beneficial. For some this method is liberating and not as terrifying as it seems.

For those who want to crack into comics they do discuss how. And the big key is writing stories, your stories. They remind us that Marvel and DC own their heroes, and own your work if you write for them. They do not hire people who send unsolicited pitches. And the best way to get their attention is to write your Avengers story with a team that is yours and not the Avengers.

If anything, Make Comics Like the Pros could have used more illustrations from Archer & Armstrong. Okay, that is me showing a bias. For those who want to get into comics or are interested in how a comic is made this book will be of interest. For those getting paid in the industry, it may seem like information that is already in their toolbox. But again, for a fan this is a quick, illustrative read that is fun.

Review Copy Provided for Purposes of Review